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How Are Child Support Costs Determined in AZ?

Posted On April 6, 2023 In Child Support

Besides child custody, child support amounts and which spouse must pay them are the most commonly contentious issues in Arizona divorces. Typically, the courts require the parent with the lower amount of parenting time to pay child support to the parent with the greater amount of parenting time. When parents share custody equally, the higher-earning parent pays support to the lower-earning parent. Arizona family court believes every parent has the responsibility to provide for their children, and that children should not suffer a serious change in their accustomed lifestyles when parents divorce, nor should one parent bear a higher financial burden for supporting the children than the other.

In Arizona, courts place the best interests of children as their highest priority in every decision.

Calculating Child Support in Arizona

Courts and child support attorneys in Arizona use the state’s established guidelines for determining child support, but the court ultimately has the discretion to alter this amount based on individual circumstances. Factors the courts consider in making child support determinations include the following:

  • Each parent’s income
  • The number of children the spouses share
  • How much time each parent has overnight custody of the children
  • Costs of medical care, childcare, and education
  • Any needs unique to the family such as costs for a disabled child or a child in competitive sports, dance, or other extracurricular activities

There are two basic child support calculating methods used by most states to determine payment amounts, the Income Share Method, and the Percentage of Income Method. Arizona uses the Income Share Method.

What is the Income Share Method for Child Support in Arizona?

With the Income Share Method, the state uses economic tables to first estimate the current monthly cost of raising children. Then the non-custodial parent—the parent with the least amount of shared parenting time—pays the percentage of the cost determined by their proportional share of both parents’ combined incomes. Suppose one parent earns 70% of the family’s combined income. Then that parent is responsible for paying 70% of the determined monthly child support obligation.

For example, if one parent earns $3,000 per month and the other earns $1,500 then the higher earner provides 66.67% of their combined income. If the court determines that it takes $1,200 per month to raise the children, the higher earner must pay $800 per month to the lower earner. In Arizona, the amount of child support paid by a higher earner is reduced by the percentage of time they have parenting time (typically overnight custody) of the children.

Determining Monthly Income for Child Support Calculations

When courts determine child support amounts, it considers more than just earnings from employment. The courts consider all monthly recurring income or benefits including:

  • Commissions and bonuses
  • Self-employment or business income
  • Pension/retirement income
  • Income from trusts, inheritance, and investments
  • Income from rental properties
  • Unemployment, Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, or Disability income

Child support payments are not deductible by the payor for tax purposes and the receiving parent does not have to declare it as income.

Arizona takes child support obligations very seriously and has several enforcement methods available through the state child support agency. If you’re looking for more information, contact Wilson-Goodman Law Group today to speak with an experienced Chandler family law attorney